Menopause

Perimenopause and Constipation Relief

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As women enter perimenopause and menopause, they may experience some unexpected changes that are less than pleasant. One such change can be changes in their bowel movements, particularly constipation, due to shifting hormones. It’s not exactly a topic most people want to talk about, but it’s important to address it to make sure you’re staying healthy and comfortable during this time of life. So, let’s explore some of the common reasons why this happens, and more importantly, what you can do to help provide relief to the discomfort and get back to feeling like yourself.

Is constipation common in perimenopause?

As women transition into perimenopause and menopause, they may experience the frustrating issue of constipation. This pesky problem can be attributed to hormonal changes, as the body’s levels of estrogen decline. With so many fluctuations happening during this time, it’s no wonder many women struggle to maintain regular bowel movements. Thankfully, there are an abundance of solutions to provide relief for constipation, even when it may coincide with the often challenging experience of perimenopause.

How to find relief for constipation during perimenopause

Increase water intake 

Hydration is key to maintaining a happy and healthy digestive system. Not only does it help prevent uncomfortable water retention, but it also ensures that your stool stays at a healthy consistency. So, how much water should you aim to drink? Well, the general rule of thumb is to aim for about 1/2 an ounce of water for every pound that you weigh.

Gentle movement 

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine not only helps you stay physically fit, but it also aids in reducing stress and keeping your digestion flowing smoothly. Whether you enjoy taking leisurely walks or getting your groove on with Zumba, biking, or yoga, any form of regular movement can greatly improve your bodily functions during perimenopause.

Slowly increase fibre 

Boost your fibre intake with whole foods, not supplements, to improve your overall health. Shockingly, the majority of adults in the US aren’t consuming enough fibre – less than half of the recommended daily amount. Unsurprisingly, this lack of fibre is largely due to a deficiency in fruits and vegetables. Rather than reaching for a supplement, opt for whole foods, due to their naturally hydrated fibre. Beware of supplements that may even cause constipation, as they absorb water from your digestive tract. Whilst fibre supplements may seem like an easy solution, they don’t provide the same benefits as whole fruits and veggies. Beyond just fibre, fruits and veggies offer a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are essential for optimal health. Instead, try incorporating high-fibre foods such as berries, oats, avocados, and pears into your diet. And don’t forget about whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes – all of which are naturally rich in fibre. By focusing on whole foods, you’ll not only boost your fibre intake, but you’ll also reap the benefits of all the nutrients that these delicious foods have to offer.

Include phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens: the natural plant compounds that can help ease perimenopause symptoms. Mimicking the hormone our body produces, phytoestrogens may help give relief for constipation and hot flashes. Whilst organic soy is a fantastic source, you can also find them within flax seeds, broccoli, legumes, oats, barley, and lentils.

Get enough sleep

Sleep and digestion are more closely linked than you might think. Skipping out on quality sleep can lead to increased stress hormones and digestive issues. In order to keep things moving smoothly, prioritize at least seven hours of rest each night.

Reduce stress

Stress can make your body go into a fight or flight mode, redirecting blood flow and energy towards your muscles to keep you safe. However, this response also impacts your digestive system, causing your gut to take a back seat. As your body doesn’t distinguish between a life-threatening situation and modern-day stressors, like work deadlines or pandemic, this can lead to painful constipation, especially during perimenopause. It’s important to acknowledge the effects stress can have on our bodies and find ways to manage it for better health and well-being. Discovering methods to cope with stress not only benefits your mental health but can positively impact your digestion as well. Everyone’s stress-relief techniques may differ, so don’t be afraid to experiment with activities such as fitness, writing in a journal, talking to a therapist, spending time with friends, tending to plants, controlled breathing exercises, meditating, or reflecting upon the things you are grateful for.

Medication

Constipation can be a real burden on your quality of life. Don’t suffer in silence – take action and speak to a doctor about medications to help alleviate your symptoms. You might be surprised to learn that even seemingly harmless vitamin or herbal supplements can worsen constipation. OTC options like laxatives, stool softeners, enemas, and suppositories can definitely bring relief, but keep in mind that they won’t fix any underlying issues. If you want to end the cycle of constipation, you’ll need a plan to address the root cause. Let a medical professional help you navigate the journey to optimal digestive health.

Conclusion

Don’t let perimenopause and pesky constipation keep you down! It can be frustrating to feel like these two are always tangled up, but fear not – there are easy ways to take control of your digestive symptoms and bring some relief. While navigating the ups and downs of perimenopause can be a challenge, focusing on gut health, stress relief, and a good night’s sleep can make all the difference. You don’t have to suffer in silence – turn to simple lifestyle changes to get that inner harmony and live life to the fullest.

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